Reflecting upon gendered drug journeys: a sociocognitive approach

When:16 Jul 2019, 3pm - 4pm
Venue:Room 221/223, Level 2, John Goodsell Building, UNSW Kensington Campus
Who:Dr Rebecca Askew, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Dr Rebecca Askew

Forty adults (aged 21-60) were interviewed as part of British Academy funded project that sought to understand the meaning and motivation for illicit substance use beyond recreational and problematic classifications; for example to facilitate creativity, spirituality, productivity, and mood improvement or to combat pain, depression or anxiety.

Using the sociocognitive approach (van Dijk, 2014) from critical discourse studies, the analysis focuses on the gendered narratives produced within discourse. Using several extracts from the interviews we compare how male and female respondents account for their illicit substance consumption. The concept of ‘drug guilt’ is introduced, which was more acutely evident within the narratives of female interviewees. This is associated with the ‘double deviance’ of transgressing legal/moral codes as well as gendered norms surrounding femininity and motherhood. The presentation concludes by outlining how we could better understand gendered experiences of substance use, particularly around evolving identities and internal and external stigma.

Rebecca Askew is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK and a visiting postdoctoral fellow with the Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) at SPRC. Her research interests broadly relate to substance use, drug policy and illicit drug markets; previous projects include, drug use in prisons, understanding the meaning of and motivation for substance use over the life-course and integrating people who use drugs into debates about policy and reform. Rebecca is currently Principle Investigator for an Economic and Social Research Council grant entitled Does UK drug policy require reform? Engaging Drug Takers into the debate. She has undertaken various methodologies (mainly qualitative) and uses critical discourse studies to frame many of her research projects.